HRC stays above $630/ton in US; sentiment mixed

US hot-rolled coil prices remained above $630 per short ton on tight supply and long lead times, but sentiment from buyers was mixed as sources weighed buying material now or waiting for lower prices.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $31.52 per hundredweight ($630.40 per ton) on Wednesday October 7, down 0.4% from $31.65 per cwt on Tuesday October 6 and up 4.1% from $30.29 per cwt a week ago on September 30.

Heard in the market
New inputs were received in a range of $29.50-32.50 per cwt.

According to market participants, the higher end of the range reflects offers for smaller tonnage and the lower reflects offers for larger tonnages.

Lead times are at least six weeks and some sources anticipate January booking will be open soon.

Due to a tight spot market, buyers said mills continue to be in the driver’s seat. Some believe mills are happy to keep capacity down in order to achieve higher prices.

Market outlook was mixed, with some sources scrambling to buy coil while others said they were waiting until the price drops.

Quotes of the day

“As long as lead times are long and supply is tight, mills will get their way,” one distributor said. “We try not to give our inventory away for a sale.”

A second distributor said the psychology of the buyer has shifted and believes that prices will begin to cool off in the first quarter of 2021.

“When [prices] were sinking, nobody wanted to get into the water, it was way too cold. Now that psychology has changed, everyone is jumping in headfirst,” the second distributor said. “Sometimes the herd doesn’t even know if it’s running to greener pastures or off the cliff.”

Index Calculation
Inputs were carried over in the producer and consumer sub-indices due to a lack of new transactional data there.

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